As the sequel to Apple’s LED Cinema Display, the Apple Thunderbolt Display ($999 from the Apple Store) was originally introduced in July 2011, and has not changed significantly since then. Measuring 27″ on the diagonal, the metal and glass Thunderbolt Display uses the same 2560×1440 screen found in the standard 27″ iMac and the LED Cinema Display, with a chassis thickness somewhere between the last two iMac generations. Three speakers are inside the frame for 2.1-channel audio, along with a basic FaceTime HD camera and a microphone.
New in this model is the Thunderbolt connector, which makes a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, or Mac Pro easy to hook up. After plugging the monitor into a wall outlet, you connect your Mac via the Thunderbolt cable to gain access to three powered USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 800 port, a Thunderbolt port, and an Ethernet port. There’s also a MagSafe plug to supply up to 85W of power to a MacBook, as well as a packed-in MagSafe 2 adapter for newer MacBooks. Thunderbolt is required for the video connection; no other video standard is supported.
The Thunderbolt Display has not been updated for roughly four years, and shows its age in physical thickness, non-Retina display resolution, the age of its ports, and pricing. It’s very hard to recommend right now, and we’d expect Apple to release a new version in the not-too-distant future.
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